Recipe: Quince, walnut and honey cake, perfect for afternoon tea

Knobbly quince is a delicately fragrant fruit that fills the kitchen with the most incredible aroma, says Melanie Johnson.

Serves 6


For the quince syrup

  • 1 large quince
  • A squeeze of juice from a lemon
  • 4tbspn runny honey

For the cake mixture

  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g light-brown muscovado sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1tspn cinnamon
  • 2tbspn runny honey
  • 75g chopped walnuts
  • 175g self-raising flour

For the topping

  • 2tbspn Demerara sugar
  • 25g whole walnuts, halved


Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Slice the quince into eighths and peel and core each slice. Next, cut the hard flesh into small, roughly half-centimetre cubes. Place in a saucepan with enough water to just cover them, together with a squeeze of lemon juice (quince browns very quickly and may also stain white boards). Pour in the runny honey and bring to a boil before simmering for about 20 minutes or until cooked.

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Remove the quince with a slotted spoon and set aside before boiling down the remaining water until you’re left with a few tablespoons of syrup. Set the syrup aside.

Prepare a 20cm-diameter loose-bottomed cake tin lined with parchment paper. To make the cake mixture, bring the softened butter and sugar to a fluffy, even consistency in a large bowl, using an electric beater, before adding the eggs, cinnamon and honey. Beat again.

Add the cooked quince and chopped walnuts, folding evenly through with a large spoon, followed by the self-raising flour. Fold gently until just combined and then pour into the prepared tin. Bake for about one hour or until a skewer comes out clean.

While the cake is still hot, brush the top with the quince-and-honey syrup and then sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Remove from the tin to cool on a wire rack. Finally, decorate with the walnut halves. Serve the warm cake with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of honey.